Kevin Nash talks The Kliq, nWo and his all-time favorite opponent
It’s a funny thing when you meet someone that’s entertained you on screen for decades. The biggest thing is you hope they’re cool. Nothing is worse than meeting one of your childhood heroes only to learn they’re complete jerks.
Next up you hope you’re cool and don’t regress into some stammering idiot. And if you’re lucky, you’re cool and they’re even cooler than you could have possibly imagined. Fortunately that was the case July 31 when I got to meet Kevin Nash a.k.a. Diesel at the Bowie Baysox’s Legends of Wrestling Night.
More than any other star I’ve met, he immediately shattered any pretense of his celebrity status and made our conversation feel less like an interview than two guys shooting the breeze. I’m now convinced his Big Daddy Cool nickname as Diesel was less a gimmick and plain fact. He seems happy with his life and thrilled that nearly 1,000 fans came out to meet him, take pictures with him and have him autograph their replica belts.
Nash started out in WCW with some awful gimmicks before he moved to the WWF and became the archetype bodyguard for ‘The Heartbreak Kid’ Shawn Michaels under the name of Diesel. I liked Diesel, especially once he started cleaning house at the 1994 Royal Rumble and winning titles.
Diesel was easily one of my favorites during the WWF’s New Generation era where the featured stars included Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart, The Undertaker and a trio of guys Nash would forever be linked to — Michaels, Razor Ramon (Scott Hall) and The 1-2-3 Kid (Sean Waltman). The foursome waged some of the most memorable matches during the NG era against each other and traded titles back and forth while adding a fifth member to The Kliq — Hunter Hearst Helmsley ‘Triple H.’
If you were at least a teenager in the late 90s you knew someone who had an nWo T-shirt. They made wrestling cool and Nash was at the forefront of WCW’s most profitable era. After WCW folded in the early 2000s, Nash returned to the WWE and became the most successful actor not named The Rock appearing in The Punisher, The Longest Yard, Rock of Ages and Magic Mike.
I was able to talk with Nash for a good 15-minutes and here’s some of the highlights:
What’s it like seeing the people come out for you?
When you’re in the middle of your run it’s hard to really sit back and enjoy the moment as you’re protected from the crowd and kept in a protected area. You never really have this opportunity to interact with your fans. And you’re sitting back never thinking it will end and that you’ll see the light on the other end of the tunnel. So this is great
What kind of response are you getting these days?
It’s great because the WWE is such a great marketing/merchandise firm and they’re getting all those old matches back out there so I’ve got these 8-year kids coming up saying I’m their favorite wrestler. I’m thinking they weren’t even born when I was in the main-events. I guess it’s like NASCAR where if your dad’s favorite wrestler was Dale Earnhardt, your favorite wrestler is Dale Earnhardt.
You’ve played a Russian in “The Punisher,” a football playing prison guard in “The Longest Yard” and a stripper named Tarzan in “Magic Mike.” What role would you love to do next?
I’d love to play a defense attorney. I’m always cast in movies because of my size and not because of my intelligence and wit and I’d like to show that off in a movie.
Madison Square Garden with [Bob] Backlund. Two years earlier I was in a green costume with a dunce hat. I was goal-oriented and driven and I was given the chance to be the champ.
I wasn’t ready for it though, but this was in the middle of the (steroid) testing and they wanted a bigger than life guy and they knew I was clean. I was the right guy at the right time. There’s not a lot of guys who became the champion with less match time than me.
Shawn. No question. Taker was fun as we were both agile and Bret was a great guy to work with. A lot of guys had problems with Bret, but I thought he was a pro and I enjoyed working with him. I watch that match [Survivor Series 95 main event] against him every year.
Most underrated opponent?
I’ve gotta say X-Pac/Sean Waltman. Not in the sense that people didn’t think he was good, but he was always the measuring stick that new guys would go against. If Sean thought someone could go, they could go and he was never wrong.
Pick your Survivor Series team and the five opponents you’d go against
I’ve gotta go with my boys The Kliq and we’d go against Hogan, “Macho Man” [Randy Savage], Andre [the Giant], Stone Cold [Steve Austin] and The Rock with Bret as the special guest referee because I’ve gotta get Bret in there.
Nah, you know what? I’ll take Bret in instead of Macho because he’d put together some great spots.
I LOVE the Survivor Series format and as far as American wrestling goes, the only change I’d make for a better 5-on-5 would be swapping Andre out for Sting, but that would definitely be a Dream Match, wouldn’t it? If he’s doing signings in your town, I definitely recommend sitting through the long lines of fans. Nash is one wrestling legend longtime fans won’t regret meeting.